8 Things You Should Never Clean With Your Vacuum Cleaner

Vacuum cleaners are powerful machines that help make house cleaning a breeze. But although they’re considered one of the most versatile cleaning tools, some things can send them straight to appliance heaven. Let’s say, you spilled your morning coffee, and you’re thinking of sucking up the liquid mess and the broken pieces of your mug from the floor to save time. Experts say don’t even think about it because that’ll do you more harm than good. We asked our partner professional house cleaners in Detroit about the top things to never clean with a household vacuum cleaner. Check out this blog for their top answers and save yourself from an impending cleaning disaster (and a potential trip to the repair shop). 


Regular vacuums are designed for dry debris and can be seriously damaged if you try to suck up liquids. The water can mess up the motor, filters, and other electrical components. However, wet/dry vacs are built to handle both wet and dry messes. They have special filters and features to prevent water from reaching the motor. If you have to clean up a spill, a wet/dry vac is the tool for the job.

Wet Debris 

Wet/dry vacs can handle some liquids, but very sticky materials, like damp mud, animal waste, or thick food spills, can clog the filter and hose. This poses risks for bacterial contamination. If you don’t know how to clean your vacuum cleaner properly, it can turn into a breeding ground of germs, molds, and mildew. It’s better to scrape up as much of the mess as possible before using the vacuum.

Cigarette and Fireplace Ash

Ash from fireplaces or cigarettes is fine dust that can jam your household vacuum’s filter, reducing suction power and making the machine work harder. Sometimes, it can even bypass the filter and damage the motor. In addition, regular vacuum cleaners aren’t well-sealed and can leak fine ash particles back into the air, which can be harmful if inhaled. More importantly, it’s a fire hazard. Even seemingly cold ashes can contain hidden embers that could ignite and cause a fire inside the vacuum cleaner bag or hose.

Instead, here’s how to safely clean fireplace ash:

  • Let the ashes cool completely – at least 24 hours after the fire is out.
  • Use a metal shovel to remove the bulk of the ash and place it in a metal bucket.

On the other hand, use a small ashtray to dispose of cigarette ash. Avoid emptying its contents directly into the trash can, as hot embers could spark a fire with other flammable materials.

Hair (Large amounts) 

Large clumps of hair can be difficult for a vacuum to manage. They can clog the brush roll, hose, and dustbin much faster, requiring frequent cleaning and potentially causing overheating or motor strain. Our cleaning experts recommend pre-cleaning by picking up balls of hair by hand and then using an upholstery attachment. To clean pet hair on furniture or carpets, dampen rubber gloves and wipe the surface. The hair will cling to the rubber.

Sharp Objects 

Sharp objects like pins, nails, glass shards, or razor blades can easily puncture the vacuum cleaner bag, hose, or internal components. This can cause tears, leaks, and potentially damage the motor or fan. In addition, they can get lodged in the attachments and pose a cutting risk when emptying the vacuum or cleaning the hose. 

Baking Soda 

A light dusting of baking soda will not be a big deal for your vacuum cleaner, but it’s a different story if we’re talking about a massive amount of it. Baking soda is a super fine powder that can effortlessly block your vacuum’s filter and even bypass it, weakening suction power and straining the motor. Even if it doesn’t clog completely, baking soda can leave a fine dust residue inside the vacuum cleaner. This can be difficult to clean thoroughly. For deodorizing carpets or upholstery, the best approach is to sprinkle baking soda on the surface, leave it for some time to absorb odors, and then sweep it up with a broom or brush.


Makeup can contain various ingredients, such as oils, waxes, and pigments. These can melt inside the vacuum cleaner, causing clogs and damage to its interior parts. Melted makeup can be sticky and difficult to remove from the inside of the vacuum. This can create a breeding ground for bacteria, making future cleaning sessions even harder. Instead, our partner home cleaners suggest using a microfiber cloth, wet wipes, or tissues as the most straightforward and safest way to remove makeup from your vanity or other surfaces.


Coins are hard and can scratch and ding the internal components of your vacuum, especially the delicate fan (impeller) and hose. This can lead to decreased performance or even a broken machine. Moreover, coins can easily get jammed in the hose or clog the dustbin, causing blockages that prevent proper airflow and suction. This can strain the motor and potentially overheat the machine. Vacuumed coins can be difficult to retrieve, especially if they get sucked deep into the machine. This could mean losing your loose change or disassembling the vacuum to fish them out. When cleaning up loose coins, it’s better to pick them up by hand or with a dustpan.

Stressed with So Much Mess at Home? Let Us Help!

Overwhelmed by dust bunnies and other types of clutter that you’re unsure if you can vacuum or not? FreshSpace Cleaning Service is here to help. Our trusted cleaning partners will leave your home sparkling clean. Experience the joy of a clean home without the hassle! Call us today for a free quote or book a clean in Detroit online.


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